Million Mile Madness, it’s on


Last Friday I posted my crazy idea in which I would attempt to earn a million miles in a month (see “A crazy million mile idea. Should I do it?“).  Reader response was highly enthusiastic (for the most part), so yes I will do it!  The challenge won’t start until March 1, but there is quite a bit of prep work to do before then…

Name it

I originally planned to name this challenge “Million Mile March” because I liked the sound of it, I like alliteration and puns, and I planned to do it in March.  But a reader pointed out the similarity to the name “Million Man March” and suggested that it might be a bit insensitive to use a name that compares my greedy, frivolous challenge to what Wikipedia calls “one of the most important modern events of African-American civil rights.”  Agreed.

Other readers jumped in with great name suggestions:

  • Million Mile March Madness
  • March Million Mile Madness
  • Million Miler Secrets (meant as a joke, I believe)
  • Frequent Miler’s Million Mile Madness… in March
  • Frequent Miler’s March Million Mile Madness!

Unfortunately, the first two risk the wrath of NCAA lawyers (see, for example, this article).  The third suggestion, Million Miler Secrets, risks the wrath of fellow blogger Daraius, from Million Mile Secrets.  He might unleash upon me lawyers, bowties, or his in-laws (who happen to live fairly near me).  I’m not willing to risk any of those encounters.

The last two suggestions both contain “Million Mile Madness“.  I like it.  Let’s do it.

Hammer out the rules

In my previous post, I listed a number of rules that I though made sense for this challenge.  Some readers suggested additional rules and some asked for clarification where rules weren’t in place.  Some objected to the rule saying “no extra points through conversions.”  I’m open to these ideas and others.  We have time to iron out most of these later.

There is one suggestion that I want to address now, however.  Some readers proposed rules that said, essentially, that I shouldn’t do anything to collect miles unless that same opportunity was available to everyone.  I’m sorry, but I believe that’s impossible.  Let’s look at some of the ways I intend to earn points:

  • Credit card signup bonuses: Given that we all have different credit histories, it would be impossible to pick out credit cards that we all can get approved for.  Also, the cards you hold now or recently applied for somewhat dictate what will be and won’t be available to you in March.  For example, I would consider signing up for the United MileagePlus card if I can get the 50K offer in March.  However, many of you probably already have that card and wouldn’t be approved for another signup bonus.
  • Shopping Portal Promotions: Some shopping portals require credit card accounts to get access.  For example, to get to the Ultimate Rewards Mall, you need to own a Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points.  If I leverage promotions in one of these portals, it would not be available to all readers.
  • Credit Card Category Bonuses: In some cases I’ll use credit card category bonuses to increase point earnings or to offset expenses (when using cash-back cards).  The ability to leverage these bonuses depends on being a cardholder.
  • Store Promotions/Opportunities: Not all stores and opportunities exist in all locations.  For example, I expect to make some use of my Target Amex card to help meet minimum spend requirements.   Unfortunately, the Target Amex card is not sold in all States. 
  • Investments: Some opportunities require short term or long term financial investments.  For example, some banks and investment firms offer points for deposits.  Another example is where one buys “free after rebate” items in order to earn points and get one’s money back.  This latter example is an investment in that your money can be tied up for quite a while.  Everyone has different circumstances that dictate how much money they can safely invest in point and mile opportunities.  And, everyone has different levels of risk tolerance.

So, let me be clear: the things I do to earn a million points will not be a step by step guide that everyone can follow.  Instead, I will report a series of techniques that will require thought and planning on each person’s part if they want to follow along.  For example, each person will have to decide for themselves which credit cards to sign up for (if any), which promotions are worth the risk, how much money they can invest, and so on. 

I’m in a unique situation in which I have the time to pursue this, I have money saved up in the bank (thanks severance checks!), I have fairly high risk tolerance, and I have an excellent and long credit history.  If you’re thinking of following along, please first consider whether your circumstances warrant this leap.  It will involve quite a bit of work and financial risk.  Is it really worth it to you?

Plan ahead

Earning a million miles in a month is not going to be easy.  I will need to carefully protect my credit score (in preparation for new credit card sign-ups), save money (for investments), and so on.  I also need to test out ideas for earning points & miles so that I’m ready to go on March 1.  I’ll follow up soon with details about this planning process.

I’ll also need to setup a spreadsheet for tracking expenses, points earned and expected, etc.  Many readers expressed interest in joining this challenge, so we’ll also have to figure out, technically, a good way for everyone to share their progress without letting others overwrite their results.  If anyone has good ideas about this and is willing to help set it up, please let me know!  In my opinion, the simpler the solution, the better.

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